This Bark is Worth its Bite

Okay, I have a feeling I know what you’re about to say.  But just in case, let me clarify.  I have heard all of these before:

  • “You just need to get some specially designed clothing.”
  • “You should take up some outdoor sports, like skating or snowshoeing.”
  • “But you get to wear all those plush, stylish sweaters!”
  • “It makes you appreciate summer all the more.”
  • “You can use your fireplace without guilt.”
  • “All those warming stews and soups.”
  • The HH will be more likely to snuggle with you.”
  • “You can break out the flannel sheets.”
  • “Hot cocoa!”
  • “You’re Canadian, it should be genetic.”
  • “Just think of how beautiful it is to look at.”

Yes, all you Frosty-philes, I know all the ways I am supposed to “learn” to enjoy winter.  I own top-notch, thinsulate-lined boots and long underwear.  I wear Arctic-approved gloves and earmuffs.  I wrap my scarf around my face in a manner reminiscent of a Brendan Fraser movie villain. I have tried skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (forget about downhill–I can barely stay upright on the snowshoes).  I drink cocoa, eat soup, wear sweaters, use flannel and snuggle with my HH throughout the season. I will always appreciate summer (with all of my heart) and don’t need no stinkin’ winter to provide contrast, thank you very much.  And Canadian? Shmamadian! I must have missed the “I love winter” genes.

In fact, the only teeny, tiny, miniscule bit of positive I can find in the Dreaded Season of Ice and Snow is that it looks pretty.  For about 48 seconds.

And after that, it sucks.

So, suffice it to say that

I.

Hate.

Winter.

I despise the cold, I dread the slush, I abhor the ice, I shun the snow, I resent having to scrape the rime off my car windows, I can’t stand that it takes longer to get dressed for a dog walk than it does for the actual dog walk, I loathe being chilly even indoors, I curse that my glasses fog up, I begrudge having to wear a hat and the resulting hat-head, I detest that I have to watch where I walk or risk slipping and breaking a hip.

And I really, really, do not like it.

Hate or not, however, I live in Toronto, which has cold, snowy winters. Except for the saving grace of  The Girls romping and gamboling in the snow whenever we get to the trail for a walk, I’d probably just stay inside for four months. If there is a visual expression of the word, “elation,” Chaser and Elsie, playing in the snow, is it.

Thanks, Mum! We really have fun over there. And we appreciate that you take us every day even though you hate it.  But you really should get down on the ground and wrestle with us.  I bet you would enjoy winter much more that way.”

[It's rich and smooth, but coconut is not the most prominent flavor.]

Luckily, around Christmas time (one of the other few bright spots in the season), I discovered Peppermint Bark from Heather (of the legendary Heather Eats Almond Butter blog).  My first attempt at the recipe followed Heather’s own almost exactly, and I posted it on my Facebook Page.

And yes, this is a dessert.  Did you think I’d stop making (and eating) them after my recent whinge about gaining weight?  Mais, pas de tout! No, I have not eliminated the sweet stuff (made with stevia) from my menus.  In fact, I feel that I need to keep such treats in my diet now more than ever, if I am truly going to learn to tap into the physical messages of hunger and satiation. I’ll continue to eat all kinds of foods, in moderation, and redouble my efforts to stop and think–and pay attention–before I eat (and I’ll be chronicling my progress in that area as well; more on that coming up).

Since I first tried the recipe, I’ve continued to play with it, as I found the taste of concentrated coconut butter a bit much for my palate.  I added some nuts and spices to create a firm-at-room-temperature, solid-when-refrigerated, impossible-to-resist version of chocolate bark, yet without any chocolate (of course, if you’re not limiting the stuff as I am, you can always sub chocolate or cacao nibs for the carob).

When the texture is refined in the blender, as I’ve done here, it becomes smooth, creamy and melty in the way that a good quality chocolate bar is melty.  Even the HH proclaimed this to be a great snack (as he bit into his fourth piece). However, this bark is more akin to one made from white chocolate, with some additional goodies thrown in.  It’s also a perfect high-energy snack or dessert, or a little sweet treat to set out on a tray when you’ve got people over on the weekend.

Because, you know, you won’t be going out much now that it’s winter.

This recipe is linked up to Amy’s weekly event, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.  Check out all the other goodies over there (or submit your own), too!

[Freeform marbled pattern courtesy of natural coconut oils from the coconut, after they are chilled.]

Last Year at this Time: Gingery Beet Salad

Two Years Ago: Sautéed Greens with Onions and Apples

Three Years Ago:  Asian-Inspired Napa Cabbage Salad (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)

© Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Comments

  1. Wow…blissful bark.
    I hate winter too. Can we move to a spot where coconuts grow? We could whip up this delicious treat AND run on the beach.

  2. I could have written this post. Everyone says those same things to me, as I’ve lived in Toronto my entire life…but the winter will never grow on me. I will never like it. It is just something I must “get through”- and it is not easy!
    But coconut bark will probably make it a bit easier :)

    • I think you said it perfectly–I feel I have to “get through” winter. Given how quickly January seems to be flying by, maybe that won’t be so tough! And I have to admit, the bark does make it easier.

  3. Oh . . . I kind of like winter. I’m really looking forward to cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing this weekend! Plus the heat makes me really lazy and whiny. :)

    But I like a good bark just as much as the next winter-hater! :)

  4. I’m a hater of winter too! I don’t care if I can finally wear cute boots! Or that I can make big pots of stews! Or that I can bake cake! Or if I can make delicious bark like that! Um, okay, maybe winter is not so bad after all!

  5. I love a cold winter but it is just me fantasising because we don’t have anything like your winters. You may hate me for saying this but it is a glorious sunny day today (after my washing has hung on the line in rain the last 4 days) – I would love to send you some sunshine but all I can say is I would be delighted to have you visit our sunny shores – wish some of your Coconut Bark pretty please!

    • Well, at least you realize it’s a fantasy. ;) Honestly, one day of the cold and snow is enough to appreciate whatever is good about it. . .after that, you just want the warmth and sunshine back. And you know I’d love to visit your sunny shores! (but we’ll have to make the bark once I’m over there–it would melt in all that heat). ;)

  6. Yummy blocks of delight. Very pretty and professional looking.

    I love all the four seasons I was born into, so 3ish months of winter suit me just fine. I’m not, however, about to tell you that you “should” get over it; for you, it’s a matter of getting through it. Either that or being prepared to pull up stakes to live farther south – but don’t land in NY. We’ve got cold, too. ; )

    • Yes, exactly, “getting through it” sums it up nicely. And I’ve been to NYC in winter–believe me, it’s nothing compared to 2 feet of snow as a daily occurrence!

  7. We are on the same page with winter. The most miserable days of my life were living in the Maryland & Virginia area. Even Texas right now is too cold! I have spent much time recently in the kitchen – it is the warmest place in the house and washing dishes by hand really warms up those icy fingers – forget the dishwasher. Thank you for this wonderful, sugar-free, yummy-looking, nutritious recipe!

    • A friend of mine in Texas was telling me they had temps in the 20s (F) last week. . . yep, cold. And you’re right–I think we can safely say that this bark is, actually, nutritious!

  8. Secretly (meaning I try to sound enthusiastic about the impending freezing cold doom each autumn… but naturally am planning my 3 month hibernation from the great outdoors), I hate winter too. Just the word “winter” sends bitter chills up my spine. Perhaps I would have a more positive outlook on the word if I spent each winter in a tropical climate?
    …Fantastic looking bark, and as always, fascinated by your ingredient use to come up with such a nice confection!

  9. Me, I SOOOOO concur. Cannot stand winter. I have no patience for it any longer. I swear, my bones are chattering. Ok, done whining.

    This bark looks sensational. I’ve not converted over to using stevia so I’ll have to figure out the exchange, as I want to make this using another type of sweetener (agave, coconut sugar, sucanat, etc.). Looks great Ricki!

    • You’re right–it seems to have gotten worse with age (like so many other things. . . argh). For the bark, you could certainly use a little agave and maybe coconut sugar (I’d blend it right in the processor to get rid of the granules), but I’m not sure how it would affect the hardening of the bark. Then again, if you kept it in the fridge, it wouldn’t really matter–would still firm up nicely. :)

  10. This sounds fantastic, Ricki! I think I may even have all the ingredients. I need to check…
    I really understand, so so much. As soon as I finished HS I moved to Arizona where it was hot and dry and sunny! 2 meters of snow and -30° is not my thing, even if it does look beautiful.

    That said, I do appreciate it now on a visit, but that only lasts a week or so!

  11. Wow, this reminds me of halva! And it sounds so much better than regular bark.

    Mr. Mihl also hates winter (only thing he hates more: snow). You two have to meet!

    • Funny you should mention halvah, because when cold, the texture really reminded me of it, too (that sort of layered, flaky texture). How I’d love to meet Mr. Mihl on your own home turf–a trip to Germany would be most exciting!

  12. Looks so yummy! I’ll give it a try.

  13. That looks heavenly, and a good excuse to like winter. Just a hair.

  14. I agree with everything you say about winter – I HATE IT! If I never saw another flake of snow again, I’d be very happy…
    and this bark looks right up my street, thank you!

  15. I hate winter too! I can’t wait until spring! Everything is so drab right now. I live in GA and I’m complaining. I couldn’t imagine living in Toronto in the winter. I would go stark raving mad!

    This dessert looks delicious. I love Heather’s blog too.

  16. oooh, YUM. and even growing up in upstate ny, i never learned to ski. always afraid of hurting my knees… what did i do instead? i bowled ;)

  17. It’s barely cold in Mumbai and I’m loving the pleasant winter :)
    As always your recipes are great and I’ve bookmarked this one!

  18. I’m with you 100 precent! I HATE WINTER! I just finished reading your post about gaining weight. Personally, I would never call it a “failure.” No matter what type of diet we follow or how closely we watch what we eat, weight changes. Yes, most people would prefer for it to go down rather than up, but that’s not always the case. Back when I first began developing an eating disorder (around age 14, I guess) I had major problems with binging too. It can be really hard to overcome, just as hard as overcoming alcohol or drug addiction. I consider myself far into recovery from my eating issues, but even I struggle with urges to continue my old habits. It’s just something we have to learn to live with and learn how to conquer it. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ricki.

  19. came here today via ellen’s website…and what timing…i don’t know if i should mention it…or not…but it is 80 degrees where i live today :-{

    the recipe looks like a winner. i will try this. happy to find you today…

    kary and teddy ( teddy is my red toy poodle…my baby…my LOVE !!!!!! )

    • Thanks for stopping by, Kary, and for your comment! Glad to know that people are finding out about the book via Ellen’s site. :D And Teddy is adorable!

  20. Glasses fogging up!! I hate that! And of course, no one should ever go without dessert… diet or not. :-)

  21. oh my god, oh my god, i need to make this as soon as possible. AH!

    and i HATE winter too Ricki. Hate it.

    • So, obviously, I am not alone in my winter-loathing. I think we all need to go to a commune in CA or something. And cook up a bunch of delicious GF, vegan, ACD-friendly, Lyme-friendly, free-from-all-allergens FOOD! ;)

  22. You aren’t alone I don’t like winter either. I really despise being cold. We should both move to Miami.

    This does sound divine. Thanks for sharing.

    Ali

  23. OMG, this looks so yum! The question is: do I clean up the house tonight like I’m supposed to or do I make this bark? So difficult…

  24. Just made this last night….it is SO good! Thanks for a great recipe Ricki!

  25. This was awesome! I didn’t have ginger or liquid stevia, so I used 1/4 tsp of extract powder and 1/2 tsp agave. Perfect. Thanks!

  26. This is a really interesting recipe, and as a diabetic, I am eager to try it out! I don’t hate the start of winter, I always enjoy the beginning of the cold, but then by Feb, I hate it. Especially this winter, we have had SO much snow!

  27. love these!! so creative. thanks for sharing. :) i’m saving to my online cookbook.

  28. Oh my this looks so good! Another amazing creation Ricki.

  29. Can I make these without carob chips and carob powder?

    • You could try raw cacao powder instead of carob and chocolate chips instead of carob chips. Just leaving it out will probably change the texture significantly, though, so I wouldn’t recommend it. . .sorry!

  30. Aw, I’m sorry you are stuck in a season you hate! I would be one of those folks offering you those “But, but, but what about *this*???” sorts of responses. But I’ll spare you, because it seems you’ve heard them all. ; )

    Anyway, this recipe looks amazing (as usual). I’m thinking this will make an appearance at my holiday party in a couple weeks! : )

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